SSU collects against NCCAA No. 1 Great Lakes Christian

The men’s basketball program at Shawnee State used another balanced effort, led by Kyree Elder’s 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists and Tim Biakapia’s 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists, to obtain a 87-67 victory over Great Lakes Christian on Saturday evening in the final contest of the Penn Station Classic at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth.

Facing a Great Lakes Christian unit that was averaging 84.2 points per game coming into the contest and putting five players in double-figures while shooting 46.5 percent as a team, the Bears put the clamps on the Crusaders as SSU held Great Lakes Christian to 36.2 percent shooting for the contest by blocking 12 shots as a team — with nine of those coming by way of EJ Onu. Shawnee State also forced 20 turnovers and outrebounded Great Lakes Christian by a 42-34 margin.

In the early going, Shawnee State’s defensive prowess won out as the Bears held the Crusaders scoreless over the first 4:27 of action. In that time frame, Justin Johnson put up seven points, including a vicious one-handed stuff on a backside rebound, to give the Bears a 9-0 advantage to start the contest.

Great Lakes Christian’s balanced offensive attack, however, cracked the code. The Crusaders ultimately took as much as a 12-point advantage (21-9) before Shawnee State worked its way back into contention behind two transition layups by Biakapia, a strong finish off of a set play by Selby Hind-Wills, and the low-post play of Johnson, who posted 15 points and five rebounds, two steals, a block and the go-ahead layup with 3.8 seconds left to put the Bears up by a 38-36 margin at the halftime break.

Just over 75 seconds in, Elder started Shawnee State’s latest second half surge by going coast-to-coast for a layup on the left block, finding Biakapia for a bucket after SSU isolated Elder on the right side of the floor, heading right to left for an euro-step finish, and adding in an alley-oop off of the glass from Desmond Crosby, Jr. to give the Bears a 46-36 lead with 16:52 to go. A flush by Biakapia and an acrobatic layup from Crosby, Jr. capped off a 12-0 run by the Bears.

Shawnee State’s execution in set plays showcased itself over the minutes that followed, with Elder driving inside for a old-fashioned and-one, Onu knocking down a trey from the left wing, and Biakapia scoring off of an offensive rebound to push the lead up to a 62-45 margin. Elder continued his second half roll by posting seven consecutive points as Shawnee State, who never led by any less than 14 points following its earlier 11-0 spurt, cruised to the win.

Behind Elder and Biakapia, Onu followed up his dominating nine-block effort with a 11-point, six-rebound statline, while Johnson added in 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals for the game. Crosby, Jr. added a well-balanced seven-point, five-assist, four-rebound, three-steal statline to the final total.

SSU will have a week off between its game against Great Lakes Christian and its Dec. 21 bout against Indiana Wesleyan, which will be on a neutral site floor. Game time will start at 1 p.m. in Richmond, Ind.

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